The Olympic Development Program for soccer (ODP program) was created to help identify and develop the top soccer players at the state, regional, and national levels. Selection to the national ODP program is the path to selection for the U.S. Olympic soccer team. Players compete for these positions within their age group, which is based on the calendar year of birth. Wichita is proud to have four Wichita boys selected to 2010 Midwest Regional soccer teams this summer.
The four players selected to the Regional ODP teams are:
- Ari Velasquez of Wichita Heights High School
- Blake Andrews of Maize High School
- Edgar Anima of Wichita North High School
- Grant Wells, who plays U14 for Cruz Azul and U15 with EFC Strikers
Velasquez, Andrews and Anima were selected to the 93 Extended Pool. Wells was selected to the 97 Region II Younger Extended Pool.
Velasquez was on the 2009 Midwest Region II ODP team that played in Italy and at the Disney showcase tournament. Andrews has been a Kansas State ODP team member since 2008; this is his first year on the Midwest Regional team. Anima has been a Kansas State ODP team and Midwest Region II team member since 2009.
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The selection process may seem like a long road, but is actually quite simple. Players start the process by trying out for their state’s ODP team. Each U.S. state or territory selects their own state level team. Each state team then trains together and participates in tournaments against other state teams from their region. There are four geographic regions. Kansans belong to Region II, the Midwest Region. During these events, coaches from the regional teams identify and select players to move up to the Regional team. Regional teams train and participate in tournaments against other regional teams. National team coaches observe players at the regional level to determine which players to move up to the National team. National team players train together and play internationally.
Player selection at each level–state, regional, national–is generally based on technique, tactics, fitness, athletic ability and attitude. The ODP can be especially important to gifted players from smaller high schools or less successful teams as it provides invaluable exposure to coaches, trainers and athletic directors from around the nation.
Kansas State team members will have another opportunity to tryout for the Regional team in November.
If you know of a Wichita soccer player, coach, team or fan that should be recognized or want to publicize local soccer news or events, please contact me at [email protected]